Under Armour Run Summit in Portland!
This post-collegiate running adventure has had so many highs- and working with Under Armour is among the top of these experiences. After spending a few days in Portland at the UA Headquarters there, I'm feeling extra grateful for this journey and inspired for more learning and more growth. My teammates and I, along with other UA runners, had the opportunity to fly out for a Run Summit full of information about fueling our mind and body for high-level performance.
This is my second time visiting the Portland HQ, an amazing facility with athletic performance and recovery labs where UA is working hard to advance athletics and help us perform better. While my last visit was more focused on the photo shoot we were there for, this time we attended lectures, learned and saw techniques for recovery, and heard from guest speakers!
After the event, I went through the notes I had ferociously been writing during each presentation, in order to really absorb the content and come up with a few ways to implement things I learned into my training. I‘m going to share them with you in this post!
Nutrition for Optimum Performance & Athletic Success:
Diet was already something I was really trying to focus in on this year, as I talked about earlier in my Inside Tracker blood test post. When I heard we were getting an in-depth presentation about the what, why and how of eating for athletic success, I eagerly grabbed my notebook and went full student-mode. A biological understanding of why we should eat certain things is really motivating because you see way beyond the reason “it’s good for you.” I learned a lot of complex information that I wouldn't capture perfectly if I tried to write it out here, but here are some of my big takeaways from types of food!
Dark Chocolate- anti-inflammatory, rich in magnesium which promotes vasodilation of blood vessels (better oxygen to tissue)
Cardiovascular support- Flavonoids (antioxidents, help immune system, vasodilation): berries, green tea, grapes, cinnamon, turmeric, citrus)
Tissue Repair- For protein, you should aim for 1.5-2g/kg bodyweight per day! Fats, Vitamins C and A, and zinc are also good for recovery. Focusing on getting a good variety of these in my diet will hopefully make a big improvement on how I recover.
The Science of Sleep
This informative conversation handed me many tips for improving sleep habits for better recovery. Although I know its infinitely important, I've conditioned myself to certain lifestyle habits that aren't conducive for getting the best sleep. I often stay up to try and extend my day. Or avoid the inevitability of the next morning, which brings a new set of activities to attend to, some of which I might not be looking forward to doing. I often rely on catching up, convincing myself that I can sleep in another day or find time for a nap on another, instead of just getting the 8-9 hours right then and there. It really hit home during this lecture: “Staying up late doesn’t extend your day, it ruins your next one.”
1. Understanding our circadian rhythm is important for getting the best sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday (30-40min range) keeps the body in a routine- knowing when to sleep and when to be awake. I plan to get more used to doing this, along with another tip: seeking light when I first wake up. (aka- opening the curtains)
2. Neuro-Associations: Doing the same things before bed can help you get a better night's sleep because your body associates this with getting ready for bed. For me right now, I always go to bed after watching TV. While this is a routine, we know that blue light disrupts sleep. Recommendations are reading, writing, or using mindfulness techniques like meditating on the day, instead. I do think I'm going to invest in blue-light blocking glasses though- not sure I'm ready to 100% give up my nightly Netflix:)
3. Your parasympathetic system restores the body to a calm state and prevents it from overworking. Rolling your stomach helps activate this system! Thought this was a cool tip.
The mental side of track and field has always been something that I shy away from. I dislike confronting my feelings, shoving the stressful/anxiety producing ideas of racing under the rug instead of dealing with them head on. This conversation about mindfulness wasn't necessarily revolutionary, but I walked away inspired to try being more mindful about my training and with a few ideas for how to manage my thoughts. I now understand what mindfulness really means: being in the moment, being aware of thoughts, emotions, physiology, and the world around me. If I am more aware of these things, I can better prepare.
Things I'm going to start doing:
Using mindfulness to "bookend" my days: Finding a time at the begining or end (or both?!) to sit and observe my thoughts with open awareness, process the whole day, and see which direction my mind goes. This can help you feel more control over the day, and address things for closure.
Understanding my relationship with challenge and stress. How do my thoughts and emotions effect me physiologically? Finding out which productive thoughts I can have when things don't go as planned or when I start to doubt a situation. We have destructive thoughts that shift the mind into negative mode and get in the way of success. Being aware of these thoughts (I'm not good enough, I can't do this), allows you to find new ways to think about your situation that are more productive (I deserve to be here, I've practiced for this).
Turing negative thoughts into positive thoughts: "I can't wait for this challenge."
A quote that really resonated with me:
"...playing in the space of what's possible, instead of what's probable."
Playing in the space of what's probable, is what I like to do. Although I do believe big things can happen, I am very much on the conservative side of "dreaming" and see things too realistically, which pushes me towards the 'negative thinker' end of the spectrum. This quote is some good food for thought.
I could write for HOURS about the things I learned at this summit, but I plan to continuously reflect on this experience and implement these techniques into my lifestyle. Thanks for reading about my experience- I hope you got a takeaway! If you didn't, hit me up cause I got a whole notebook of ideas :)